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Sistersville Council approves bonuses

By Staff | Dec 10, 2014

Potential changes to the city’s charter and Christmas bonuses were topics of conversation during the Dec. 8 meeting of Sistersville City Council.

Council discussed an amendment to the ordinance for appointment of city officers. Mayor Bill Rice said the city often finds itself looking outside city limits to fill positions, such as police chief.

“As Sistersville is shrinking, it is difficult to find people willing to serve and who are qualified to fulfill these positions,” he said.

A proposed charter amendment would seek to remove the residency restriction for appointed officers, which include the city recorder, city commissioner and police chief, which all require city residency.

The issue arose last month, when council voted to hire Rob Haught as police chief despite Haught not living within city limits. At the time, Rice said the city has set a precedent in the past, as Haught did not live in the city when he was police chief for 17 years. The next three police chiefs also did not live in Sistersville.

Possibilities of the amendment include first looking for said officer in the city limits and then to be able to search for a possible candidate for the positions in a predetermined radius outside of the city limits; and setting a radius limit of how far out of town prospective officers could live.

Council decided that the amendment of the residency requirement would effect all appointed officers. This issue still has many avenues to discuss and will be discussed and followed up at the next regular council meeting.

Also during the meeting, Council approved Christmas bonuses for city employees this year. A unanimous vote allowed that full time employees will receive a $200 Christmas bonus and part time employees, $100.

It was also announced at the meeting that the Christmas parade, which was cancelled last week, will be held this Friday at 7 p.m. The lighting of the tree outside the City Building will be at 6 p.m.

During the public forum portion of the meeting, City Attorney Carolyn Flannery was asked why she had not contacted Eric Peters about the Port Authority and Sistersville Ferry and keeping it in operation. Flannery said she had not yet got in contact with Peters.

Rice said he had sent a letter to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and senators Jeff Kessler and Larry Edgel asking for support for the ferry for wages and fuel.

“We haven’t heard anything back from them yet, so we’re unclear where it will go from here,” he said. “We can only wait for a response.”

Due to a scheduling conflict, a dog and cat ordinance could not be put in place at this time for the city. Council decided more investigation is needed to create an ordinance on felines.

Under the approval of bills, Councilman Phil Konopacky questioned the fuel purchasing by the fire department and other departments of the city. The fuel bill is divided by four city departments each month.

“There was a system developed for the fire department, with date, truck number, person and miles per gallon (in the purchasing) that is not being followed,” he said.

As for the fuel purchases in the city, the garbage department is using the majority of it and fire is using the least, he said. It was suggested using BP cards to pay for what they all use.

While BP cards were cancelled for the other departments, it was not cancelled for the fire department.

Members of the fire department suggested instead of paying a little extra on the bill, they drive a little further, and pay for what they are using. It was questioned if it was cheaper since it uses extra fuel to get to the gas station and to use the BP card.

Council decided that research will be done to further investigate what the difference would be and see what the more cost effective course of action would be. Rice he would talk to BFS and come back with a report next month.

Brooke Fletcher from the office of the Attorney General Morrisey was in attendance at the meeting and spoke of what assistance the Attorney General’s office can do to assist communities and local residents.

Also, Tanya Tippins was appointed as the new council person for the 4th Ward.

The next meeting of the Sistersville City Council will held at 7 p.m. Jan. 12.